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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Desire for Wholeness: Sources of Contemporary Holistic Theology - RET6055
Title: Desire for Wholeness: Sources of Contemporary Holistic Theology
Guaranteed by: Ecumenical Institute (27-EI)
Faculty: Protestant Theological Faculty
Actual: from 2023
Semester: summer
Points: 5
E-Credits: 5
Examination process: summer s.:
Hours per week, examination: summer s.:0/2, C [HT]
Capacity: unknown / unknown (unknown)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
Key competences:  
State of the course: taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: you can enroll for the course repeatedly
course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: Mgr. Kateřina Kočandrle Bauer, Th.D.
Annotation - Czech Sign Language
There is a deep desire in people to see and experience unity and wholeness in life at all levels. This desire for unity is not only a psychological concept but also a mythological and religious one. This course introduces the theological sources that within the Christian traditions of both East and West help to fulfil this desire. Because wholeness and unity have played a significant role in the Eastern tradition and spirituality, the course works predominantly with the authors of Russian religious philosophy and Eastern theology. These voices are complemented by Western voices, especially from the Roman Catholic world.

Unity and its theological sources are sought out in each lesson , step by step, in fields such as theological epistemology, cosmology, anthropology, the theology of space, and lastly in a forensic exploration complemented by human creativity and freedom.

The course will be based as combination of the lectures and seminar work predominately based on the commenting of the given texts.

Themes for the semester:

The wholeness on the level of epistemological sources, where symbols and icons as theological categories help to reconcile the transcendent and immanent realms, and where material and corporal elements are also considered. The sources also point to the complementarity of two ways of knowing God – the apophatic and cataphatic ways. It will introduce theoretical principles such as coincidentia oppositorum and antinomy, which speak about the theoretical necessity of understanding reality in terms of opposites but also open space for a mystical experience of unity that reconciles them.

The theme two will explore cosmology. Here we will deal with various sources of so-called pan-en-theisms, which work with a reconciliation of the created and the uncreated, the Creator and creation. It searches for a true expression of the relationship between God and creation which avoids both radical dualism (which separates God and creation) and pantheism (which dissolves God into creation).

The third theme switches our attention to theological anthropology. Here, the reconciliation of opposites concerns the possibility of overcoming body-mind (spirit) dualism. The principal theme is the recuperation of embodied existence and corporality into the notion of God’s image in the human person. It refers to patristic sources and to modern holistic concepts that bring the human body and corporality back into theology. Embodied existence refers not to life in one’s own physical body but to the wholeness of relating to a broader body, the body of others and the body of the whole cosmos, and even the body of the invisible world of angels.

The fourth theme will explore the concept that has been largely forgotten in mainstream Christian tradition but has always been present in mystical undercurrents, namely Imago Dei as the androgynous. This concept can help where the opposites of female and male elements have lost their complementarity and become antagonistic. I will show how the forgotten concept of androgyny contributes to theological anthropology by providing new ways of grasping the unity and integrity of masculinity and femininity in every individual, which in turn will lead to more integrated relationships between all people.

The fifth theme will discuss the unity of a mother and her child as an example of unity par excellence. This unity is not only biological but also speaks of the desire of our psyche and spirit. As a metaphor, this unity has entered every culture and religious tradition, including Christianity. The chapter explores those aspects of the unity between a mother and her child which the Christian narrative appears to have suppressed or completely forgotten.

The sixth theme will deal with the question of wholeness in spatial existence and overcoming spatial dualism, largely on the basis of philosophical and theological criticism of onto-theology and a revision of the adverbials of space according to a symbolic understanding of language. The chapter will focus on the historical case of the lives of Russian emigrés, where spatial dualism could not play a role because of their life situation. Rather than the adverbials of outside and inside, we meet the metahpors of being on a journey, of living on the fringes but also, paradoxically, on the inside.

The final theme will conclude with the search for wholeness through the application of every individual’s creative potential. It will demonstrate the importance of human creativity, or co-creativity with God, as the important category for both seeking and living unity. The extent to which people are seen as having a passive or active role in spiritual life is determined by the competing requirements of institutional and moral rule-keeping on the one hand and the desire for personal freedom on the other.
Last update: Kočandrle Bauer Kateřina, Mgr., Th.D. (09.01.2024)
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